British Official Presents Print Symbolizing American-British Unity to World War I
Survivor Frank Buckles
Prince William County, VA, April 23, 2009 – A copy of the “Side by Side” painting commissioned by Azalea Charities of Prince William County has made its way to West Virginia.
John Hutton, British Secretary of Defense, presented a copy of the painting to Frank Buckles, age 108, the last surviving United States veteran of World War I. Hutton made the presentation on March 19 at Buckles’ home in Charles Town, West Virginia.
Hutton was in the United States to make a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that day and traveled to West Virginia to make the presentation immediately after his speech.
“It was a delight to meet Mr. Buckles and I thought that the print was a most apt reminder of the service that personnel from our two countries’ armed forces have undertaken together and continue to do today,” Hutton said in the letter to Frank Lasch, chairman of Azalea Charities. “My own grandfather, a US citizen, served in the US Army in France in World War I, so it was a particular privilege for me to meet one of his contemporaries as well as a reminder that of the depth and strength of the bonds that link our two countries.”
Buckles joined the U.S. Army when he was only 16 years old, lying about his age. His home state of Missouri did not issue birth certificates at that time. Buckles served in England and France, driving ambulances and motorcycles for the Army’s 1st Fort Riley Casual Detachment.
“Side by Side” is an acrylic painting commissioned by Azalea Charities to pay tribute to the close relationship between US and UK troops. It was unveiled in a special ceremony at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., on October 9, 2008,
Azalea Charities commissioned the 'Side by Side' painting by internationally recognized artist Dean Baer. Funds raised by sale of prints, note cards and other images of the painting are shared between Azalea Charities and the British Army Benevolent Fund America to benefit their wounded men and women and their families.
Frank Lasch, chairman of Azalea Charities, says: “I hope everyone – citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom alike – will recognize this painting as a symbol of our appreciation to Great Britain and its troops for standing with us in the fight against terrorism. We also hope that everyone will recognize the urgent need to help the wounded soldiers on both sides.”
About Azalea Charities
Azalea Charities is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in Prince William County, Virginia. The organization is staffed entirely by volunteers who donate their time, talent and money. Azalea Charities raises funds for Aid for Wounded Warriors and its community charities through membership fees, private donations and sponsorship of special events such as the Marine Corps Marathon and the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon, which will take place Sunday, May 17, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Beyond minimal expenses, all the funds they raise go to their charitable core causes.
The largest recipient of funding from Azalea Charities this past year was Aid for Wounded Warriors, which received $168,000. Since its inception in June 2004, Azalea Charities has distributed more than $500,000 in funding to Aid for Wounded Soldiers.
For more information, contact:
Frank Lasch, Chairman
Azalea Charities, Inc.